Rejoice in the Wife of Your Youth

“Rejoice in the wife of your youth.” Proverbs 5:18
Recently I had the privilege of listening to this podcast. An interview between Carey Nieuwhof and Gordon MacDonald. I am only about a fifth of the way through and am compelled to write this thought down. Gordon MacDonald is 80 years old and reflected on his life and ministry leadership by offering 15 Life Lessons. The podcast is Nieuwhof’s attempt to draw out as much as he can from MacDonald on the lessons. A statement he made while unpacking his very first point struck me.
 
Here’s MacDonald’s first lesson: “Put the people you value most into your calendar first.” Now. Are you sitting down? Here’s something he said under this point: “You will be with your spouse much longer after the children leave the house.” (This isn’t a direct quote, but something very similar.) As I mentioned, he’s 80. He is about to celebrate 60 years of marriage to his wife. Let’s say they waited 5 years to have children after marriage. Then let’s say there were 3-4 years difference between the children. This would mean they have been together around 35 years AFTER the children left for college.
 
I realize a lot of factors are at play and every person, marriage, situation, etc. is different.
 
However. . .
 
Thirty-five years of marriage AFTER children is mind boggling to me. Not because they will have been married 60 years (as amazing and wonderful as that is). But because it is, literally, another lifetime together AFTER raising children in the home. (I know you never stop raising your children, but you know what I mean.)
 
This makes Proverbs 5:18 carry new meaning for me. I believe I am to always – always – rejoice in my wife. But when I heard Gordon MacDonald talk about this, it was if the Spirit of the Proverb (which, by the way, is the Spirit of God) was saying, “always rejoice in the wife of your youth, so you will always enjoy one another as in the days of your youth.” In other words, I don’t want the “glory days” of my marriage to Katie be restricted to the 5 years before children. I don’t want the 20 or so years with children in the house to only be focused on the children. I don’t want this season of child-raising (in the home) to remove our rejoicing in one another. Because, if we keep our health and we successfully launch our children, we have a whole lot of life together remaining. I don’t want it to be boring. I don’t want it to be stale. I don’t want it to be like we’re siblings or distant cousins or old friends. I want to rejoice in the wife of my youth – throughout my old age – as we did in the days of our youth.
 
I am not sure who needs to hear/read/ponder this today, but think about the implications.
 
How does knowing there are many years waiting for you on the other side of children (in the home) change your thoughts of marriage now?
 
When was the last time you took your spouse on a date – just the two of you?
 
When was the last time you and your spouse laughed together?
 
Do your children know that you are more committed to a rich relationship with your spouse than you are to them?
 
Rejoice in the wife of your youth, husbands. There’s a lot more life post-youth than before. But that doesn’t mean your joy has to stay there.